Noisy Deadlines

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”– D. Adams
@Fedi

  1. The Quantum Magician by Derek Künsken, 478p: It was an interesting premise overall, with posthumanism discussions and creepy religions. Lots going on here: complex worldbuilding. creative and unusual hard sci-fi concepts and bioengineering of specialized human sub-species. There are different post-human beings that were heavily genetically modified, like Homo Quantus, who are able to make astounding leaps of intellectual analysis by stepping away from their individuality, Homo eridanus (The Mongrels): engineered people adapted to live on the deep-sea floor and the creepiest of all, Homo pupa (The Puppets): a type of slave species who were genetically modified to experience awe under pheromonal cues of their masters. I gotta say some of the quantum philosophical passages about faith, existence, and quantum calculations were boring to me. The part about Homo pupa and their blind worshipping was super disturbing, exploring the worst part of blind faith fanaticism.

  2. Midnight Riot (Rivers of London #1) by Ben Aaronovitch, 298p: Cool urban fantasy set up in London. It's got the Dresden Files vibe. It's full of British slang, which was not familiar to me. I'm not knowledgeable in London geography so I must have missed tons of references. It was still a nice read for me, but I guess I was discouraged to go on with the series because it seemed very niche and more interesting for people who know London culture.

  3. Stuck with You (The STEMinist Novellas, #2) by Ali Hazelwood, 127p: A quick and fun enemy to lovers trope, but with engineers!

  4. Timeless (Parasol Protectorate, #5) by Gail Carriger, 407p: This was probably my favorite book of the series, with a satisfactory ending. I love the writing style of these books, there is a lightness to it that makes me smile all the time. This one has dirigibles, a boat trip, balloon trips, a cute metanatural baby (Prudence), children traveling with their parents, Egypt ancient mysteries, and adorable supernatural beings. (vampires and werewolves). It's witty and sensible and classy. It was a true feel-good read. And I felt compelled to continue reading the next series (The Custard Protocol) that focuses on Prudence as a grown-up lady.

#readinglist #books #reading

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I’ve been having moments of deep reflection in the past few weeks. Maybe even the past couple of months. I got an urge to reinforce the simplicity principles that have lead me to where I am right now.

I noticed at first that I wanted a simpler process to organize my thoughts, ideas and actions. I always write about the GTD method and how it’s been an excellent tool for me. The interesting thing about GTD is that you can make it as simple or as complex as you need. Right now I need simple. So I’ve been experimenting with MS To Do with the very basic GTD setup, just contexts lists, no linking to projects, and I noticed less effort from my part to keep the system current.

Then my dad passed away recently, and that was a traumatic experience. It was hard because I’m far away, and I’m in the middle of waiting for my new passport to be able to travel. That will happen in a couple of weeks, fingers crossed. I’ve been journaling privately a lot, trying to process the grief and working towards acceptance. Grieving can give us a whole new life perspective, on the things that really matter. And that all comes back to what I was talking in the beginning: simplicity. Enjoying the simple things in life, and also having a simple life, with less stress. I’ve been prioritizing meditation, yoga and walks with my partner. I’m taking care of my diet and my sleep. Those are fundamental things.

My reading taste has been changing as well. I’m in a phase where I want to read stories about people, but I still prefer fantasy or sci-fi settings. I’ve just finished the fifth book of the “Parasol Protectorate” series by Gail Carriger and it was such a delight! It’s steampunk, Victorian inspired, funny, witty and super relaxing for me. After finishing it I continued on to Gail Carriger’s other series “The Custard Protocol”, which is the same setting, with the daughter of the protagonist of the “Parasol Protectorate”. That’s what I need right now: something fun and smart, with not too many high stakes and some sensibility in it. I’ll probably be reading more romance-like books in the future. It’s one of those phases.

#journal

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I’ve been through some hard times, my dad passed away last week and I'm dealing with grief the best I can. I find myself wanting to engage in contemplative activities, nothing noisy, nothing too intense. Long walks are great, I haven’t had the desire to go running yet.

I find that meditation and yoga help a lot. Reading also helps, but I can't seem to focus on a book for too long now. And I can’t seem to be able to read anything too intense, serious, or complex. For some days I couldn’t decide what I wanted to read. I’m gravitating towards feel-good romance books. So, I picked up a novella by a romance author I enjoy, because it was short and easy-going. I’m taking my time.

I felt I was also in need of some mindfulness inspiration. Something that encourages me to contemplate the present in a non-judgmental way. So, I remembered that I've had Jon Kabat-Zinn's work on my to-read plans for a while now. I picked up “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” and it’s been soothing.

#grief #journal

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

  1. The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall, 340p: I enjoyed this Sherlock Holmes fantasy twist. I loved when the narrator breaks the fourth wall to apologize and tries to conceal the offending language spoken by some characters. It's a crazy world, different dimensions exist, time travel is possible, there are transgender and pansexual characters, humor, and hints of Lovecraftian/Gothic/Vampire-ish atmospheres.

  2. War Master's Gate by Adrian Tchaikovsky, 737p: This was a long book, I have to say the first half dragged a little. It's a plot-heavy book, with high stakes, several characters die because of the war. There were some powerful scenes related to war decisions that seemed uncomfortably to reality. I was more interested in what was going on in the forest with Che and Seda, the major mystery of this whole series. It ends in a cliffhanger to the last book of the series.

  3. Heartless by Gail Carriger, 400p: This series is so much fun, I'm glad I got back to it. Delightful language, lots of action and tea drinking, a giant mechanical octopus, zombie porcupines mixed with vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and a mystery. Also, a pregnant protagonist is not really common in steampunk/paranormal novels. It's classy and fun! I will read the next one in the series.

  4. Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman, 224p: Down-to-earth productivity discussion, made me think about my limited existence and ponder what's really essential in our lives. There's a lot about acceptance and being patient. The overall message is to take it slow and enjoy the ride. Good reflections.

  5. The Acid Watcher Diet by Jonathan E. Aviv, 293p: I liked the diet approach of this book. I've had acid reflux for years and have adopted lifestyle changes and tweaks to my diet to counteract it. It never worked 100%, and this book was eye-opening in terms of suggesting additional changes to my diet and eating habits that are truly beneficial. I'm still in the first 28-day healing phase (the most restrictive diet) and I'm seeing improvement in my symptoms. The book is very accessible, there are recipes, comprehensive meal plan suggestions, and lists of foods that are recommended so we can come up with our meal plan as well. The recipes are easy to follow and they matched my diet preferences. It has very good advice not only for acid reflux but for lifelong health.

#readinglist #books #reading

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I’ve always had some dietary restrictions after I found out I was lactose intolerant years ago. It turned out I had acid reflux without even realizing it at the time. Some symptoms can be very similar to a cold (irritated throat, nose dripping, coughing), and after some exams I found out I had lactose intolerance, a hiatal hernia and acid reflux as a consequence.

That diagnosis made me change my diet and I started taking stomach medication: proton pump inhibitors (PPI). After a few years I got better and I tried to stop the medication on a daily basis, and only taking it if I knew I was having a meal that were outside my dietary restrictions. It worked for a while.

By that time I stopped consuming:

  • Coffee
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Soda
  • Alcohol
  • All carbonated beverages

Then life happened, I’d start eating something that would trigger my symptoms again, and I was back and forth with prescribed medication, over the counter antacids and diet changes to feel better.

A couple of years ago I tried a restrictive diet called “Fast Tract Diet” which seemed to work well for the symptoms, but I had cravings and in the end the diet was not sustainable to me. It was very similar to a keto diet, but with even more restrictions about starchy foods and carbs.

Anyway, I slacked off recently. I thought I was doing okay, I started consuming more tea, I felt that my lactose intolerance was not that bad anymore so I added cream in every cup of tea I had. I was eating more chocolate and more processed meats (like ham and sausages).

So for a few months I felt symptoms coming back, specially my throat being sore, my nose dripping with no apparent reason and dry coughs EVERY DAY. And also, bloating and indigestion. That was a huge red flag that I should have noticed earlier but I thought it was seasonal pollen allergy or something.

My 28 day restriction phase

I’m starting a diet that focuses on replacing high-acid foods with low-acid foods and eliminating trigger foods (Reference: The Acid Watcher Diet by Jonathan Aviv, MD, FACS.)

It’s a less restrictive diet for me, because it allows fruits and nuts and even small portions of whole wheat bread.

I already don’t consume: alcohol, coffee, carbonated beverages, vinegar and soda. Those are already off limits for me for some time now. And I don’t miss them at all.

Now, for 28 days I WON’T consume any of the following:

  • Tea (I will allow some herbal teas only)
  • Tomato, tomato sauce
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Bell peppers
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits: lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, pineapple
  • Processed foods / processed meats
  • Milk (I will replace it with Almond milk)

And I will consume fruits and vegetables with pH higher than 5.

I will work on a complete meal plan for the next weeks and see how it goes.

After the 28 days phase I will evaluate my symptoms, check how I feel and I will slowly reintroduce some foods I one at a time and see if they are triggers. If they are, I know I have to continue avoiding them.

#journal #diet #health

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By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

It’s summer, so I focused on some light reads that were on my TBR pile. The Starlight's Shadow series was my favorite. I was a bit disappointed with “A Discovery of Witches” and “Architects of Memory”. And “Strange Love” was not exactly what I expected, but at least it had some originality.

  1. A Discovery of Witches (All Souls #1) by Deborah Harkness, 579p: It started well, but then it seemed the story dragged on and on and on... I liked the yoga class with witches, vampires, and demons. There was a lot of world-building info dump that threw me off the plot. Some characters are vampires who lived for centuries, so there was too much background story delivered all at once. I can see it was well researched, mentioning old editions of Bibles, the works of Galileo, Isaac Newton and Darwin, for example. The writing just didn't flow well for me, I wasn't invested enough in the characters to want to follow them through the next two books.

  2. Architects of Memory (The Memory War #1) by Karen Osborne, 336p: It started okay but then some ideas felt underdeveloped and it was not clear how the alien technology worked and what was really going on with the characters' hallucinations. The writing style didn't attract me too much and I thought there was the overuse of metaphors to describe things. I was confused by some terms used to name objects, sometimes I found there was not enough context to understand what that object was. The ending was very abrupt and to be honest, I still quite didn't get it. I don't feel compelled to continue reading the next book.

  3. Hunt the Stars (Starlight's Shadow #1) by Jessie Mihalik, 419p: Romancy sci-fi (enemies to lovers trope) with nice world-building and engaging characters: a perfect summer read. Humans and Valoffs (old-time enemies) managing to work together in a spaceship, sharing meals, watching TV series, cooking, cleaning and trying to be nice to each other. Valoffs are human-like aliens with telepathy and telekinesis powers. Truly enjoyed the ride, and I jumped to the next book of the series right away.

  4. Eclipse the Moon (Starlight's Shadow #2) by Jessie Mihalik, 440p: The story continues with a different POV, focusing on the hacker Kee and the weapons specialist Varro, who is super powerful. They are on an espionage mission on a space station, so lots of hacking security cameras and stealth are happening. I had fun, another light summer read.

  5. Strange Love (Galactic Love #1) by Ann Aguirre, 306p: “Strange” is the best word to describe this book. It’s light in tone, there’s a talking dog, and the male character is gentle and kind with none of the possessive alpha male behavior common to the alien-in-search-of-a-mate romance trope. The plot revolves around this alien competition or contest (“The Hunger Games” style), in which people participate to win the right to mate in this alien world. A human female is accidentally “abducted” from Earth and ends up on a different planet where this contest is starting. Warning: sexy times were a lit bit cringy because the alien had totally different anatomy, so, yeah, very weird.

#readinglist #books #reading

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

After I re-read the book “Making it all Work” by David Allen last year I started to think more about the Higher Horizons.

Basically, in the GTD framework, we can have different levels of control over what we are doing. They are called Horizons of Focus.

In summary, they are:

  • Ground: Calendar/actions
  • Horizon 1: Projects
  • Horizon 2: Areas of focus and accountability
  • Horizon 3: One to two-year goals and objectives
  • Horizon 4: Three-to five-year vision
  • Horizon 5: Purpose and principles

You can read the full definitions here.

The Ground level is what is going on right now, right in front of us: meetings and appointments we have on our calendar and our next actions.

Horizon 1 represents our Projects, the things we want to accomplish that will require more than one action. A project requires various next actions until it can be completed. It can be short: completing 3 next actions renders the project complete in a week, or long: multiple next actions that complete the project within a year or so.

So usually a Task Manager and a Calendar app will cover the Ground and Horizon 1 Levels.

Horizons 2 to 5 are what I'm calling the Higher Horizons here. It works as a framework to align all of our actions and projects with our larger goals.

There are many ways to build this framework and the choices are highly personal. Some people like to have mind maps, connected notes, bullet point lists, outliner apps, or a combination of those.

I decided to create a spreadsheet where I could organize this information in one place. And also, I wanted it to be useful for my planning routines. So what I did was a blend of planning and higher horizons perspectives.

I'll try to explain how I set it up below.


My GTD Dashboard 🚩

I set up an Excel spreadsheet to help me organize the “Higher Horizons”. But I also added some planning tabs that help me link the higher horizons with my planning process. I keep one file per year.

I have the following tabs:

In summary, the tabs contain:

  • My GTD System: an overview of my tools and routines with some links.

  • YEAR PLANNING: high-level planning I do every December to think about the incoming year.
  • MONTHLY PLANNING: Divided into quarters, it's an overview of my plans for the incoming month/quarter.
  • HORIZON 01 – PROJECTS: A projects log list.
  • HORIZON 02 – AREAS OF FOCUS: a summary of my areas of focus and the distribution of projects. The detailed information about each of the areas is kept in a separate mind map file.
  • HORIZONS 03-04 : Goals and Vision: I fill this out at the beginning of the year when I reflect on each area of focus and decide what I want to focus on next.
  • END OF YEAR REVIEW: a checklist for a reflection exercise and ideas for the next year.

For Horizon 05: Purpose and principles, I actually have a text document, that can be accessed from a link I added to the spreadsheet in the “My GTD System” tab.

I also have a link to another text document called “Big Picture”. As part of my end-of-the-month review, I do a write-up with the highlights of the month. This is a Word document and is not part of the spreadsheet.

Read more...

  1. Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files # 8) by Jim Butcher, 496p: We get to know a lot more about Molly, Charity, and Murphy, who are all strong and bad-ass female characters and are given more space in this book. I thought this one was a little bit more self-contained with less overwhelming magic battles, and more character development, which was good. And Dresden apparently gets an apprentice, cool!

  2. Stolen Focus: Why You Can't Pay Attention- and How to Think Deeply Again by Johann Hari, 368p: There is so much information in this book! The author explores various sides of the topics covered, citing scientific research and interviews. Some topics discussed: the importance of mind wandering, how slowness and mindfulness activities nurture attention, that reading a book is the simplest form of experiencing the flow state, and how the Internet is training us to read information by skipping and jumping from one thing to another, instead of reading in a linear and focused fashion. He also covers some of the debates and controversies around the increase in ADHD diagnoses, what is going on with social media, the importance of sleep, the idea of perpetual economic growth and how it affects our worldview, and some ideas on why we can't focus enough on the climate crisis challenges today. Excellent read, it doesn't try to find a single magical solution. Our ability to focus is complex and it is entangled with technology, mental health, our environment, our economy and our culture.

  3. The Getting Things Done Workbook: 10 Moves to Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen, 224p [RE-READ]

  4. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, 356p: I didn't know I liked contemporary romcom novels about women in STEM and academia, and yeap, I do! This was fun and light-hearted! Just what I needed to get out of a sudden book slump at the end of the month. I empathized with the characters, their academic struggles, and their self-doubts. The romance was adorable, I just wanted a happy ending for all the characters!

#readinglist #books #reading

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

Yes, I have a confession to make: I went back to Nirvana. Again. After spending time customizing MS To Do, being excited about colorful emojis, backgrounds and all sorts of integrations with Outlook… I went back to the good old Nirvana.

I probably said it before, but Nirvana is still the best GTD implementation for me. It's simple and elegant. I like it because it allows me to have neatly well organized GTD lists. It is the only app that gives me a clear and straightforward view of all my commitments. And you might wonder why is that important?

Well, I worry a lot about things. My mind is constantly thinking, re-thinking and planning. One of the things that attracted me to GTD was the idea of “unloading” my thoughts, stepping back and making sense of them. But all those unloaded things need to be processed, and for my mind to be at ease, they need to be in an organized trusted place. So, Nirvana is the best digital tool to take care of all that stuff.

“You can only feel comfortable about what you're not doing when you know what you're not doing.” — David Allen, Brandon Hall. The Getting Things Done Workbook: 10 Moves to Stress-Free Productivity, 2019.

Maybe it’s because Nirvana has a more fixed structure, things are either in:

  • Inbox
  • Next
  • Later
  • Waiting
  • Scheduled
  • Someday
  • Reference

And that’s it. My brain enjoys having these well-defined buckets. And also because Nirvana allows a bird’s eye view of everything, distributed in all those buckets, or views filtered by Personal or Work areas because of the global filters. I have better control of projects states, so if a project becomes inactive, it’s easy to drag and drop it to the “Later” or “Someday” folder and all its next actions will be inactivated as well. No need to go back to the contexts list and move inactivated actions individually (something I would have to go through in MS To Do).

I liked my setup on MS To Do. I think it might work for a lot of people. But there were some details that bothered me:

  • NOT having ONE Inbox to rule them all. I was using two accounts, one for personal and one for work, so I ended up with 2 inboxes (that is not an issue if you use one account for everything). The process of having a thought, recognizing it as something to be captured and then having to decide in which instance I was going to capture it created some friction to my capturing. I tend to capture a lot while I’m on my computer, and I would pause to switch accounts and get distracted. I kept remembering how ubiquitous and easy it was to add something to the unified Nirvana Inbox with a keyboard shortcut. And also, how Nirvana syncs between my personal and phone mobiles, so no friction at all.
  • Not having the Projects linked to Next Actions. Yeah, I tried to let go of it linking next actions to projects”). And it turns out my preference is to have everything linked. I’ve heard it is a cognitive preference, some people are okay with having things separated, and some people don’t. I’ve tested it for real, so now I know. Linking actions to projects is a must for me.
  • The hashtags drop-down selection only appears when adding a new task. So, I was using hashtags to identify projects keywords. When creating a new task in MS To Do I could type “#” and a list of hashtags terms already used would appear. But if I have already captured something and I was processing it to add a hashtag later, the drop-down menu wouldn’t show up and I ended up creating variations of the existing hashtag because I didn’t remember exactly the word I used. It’s a minor detail, but when you start having too many projects, this can be an encumbrance. Of course, this problem is avoidable if you’re not worried about linking next actions to projects, which is NOT my case (see the previous item).

It’s a journey…

I feel comfortable now with my decision. I was triggered to experiment MS To Do because of a change in my work (which recently shifted everything to Microsoft). So I used MS To Do for about a month and realized it was not exactly all that I expected. I still think it’s a great app.

And that’s okay. I know I will change my system based on my experience level, current needs, and changes in the available tools. And Nirvana still works for me, so I’ll stick with it a little bit more!

#GTD #productivity #Nirvana #apps

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

One thing I’m learning is that it is OKAY to stop reading a book. I can just abandon it and move on with no guilty feelings.

I did just that today. I usually try my best to finish a book even when I’m not enjoying it too much because I have hope it will get better eventually or I’ll learn something by the end of it. A book can have ups and downs and that’s okay.

I’m finding that if after reading 20-30% of the book and it is not grabbing me, it’s time to let go. I’ve always found it hard to give up on a book, after all, I’ve invested hours into it, and giving up seems weak.

Now I have more awareness of the signs showing me it’s time to let go:

  • I’m not reaching for the book at every given opportunity. When I’m into a book, I’ll read it during lunch break, breakfast, before bed, while waiting in line, or during any downtime when I’m not working. If reading the book feels like a chore, then it’s best to let go.
  • I can’t relate to the characters and their motivations. I like to have enjoyable characters, even if they are villains. This is subjective. Sometimes I don’t care about the main character because of “reasons”. It’s like a gut instinct, if they don’t click with me, I’m not engaged.
  • I’m not enjoying the tone/theme. I’m getting more sensitive about some themes in fiction. Too much gore and violence can throw me off. Some trigger warnings for me: child abuse, gore, body horror, sexism, racism, and physical abuse.
  • I give the book a chance (read at least 20-30%) and I feel it’s not the right time to read it. If after a few chapters I still do not feel like I’m in the right place emotionally or mentally to finish it, it’s time to stop reading it.

The book in question today is Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. I read 20% of it, roughly 8 chapters in total. It is a pick for my local Book Club and I’ve heard great things about it. It is a fantasy set in an alt pre-Columbian American world with magic and old prophecies. The setting is dark from what I could gather and the very first chapter threw me off with a brutal scene involving a child. I couldn’t get past that. Later on, we are introduced to a great character, a strong female ship captain whom I loved! But the story is told from 4 different characters’ viewpoints, and I didn’t enjoy the other three POVs.

Anyway, it’s time to move on. Maybe I’ll pick it up later, but there are so many other books I want to read that I’ve decided to put Black Sun on the back burner. Deep inside I still feel bad about it, it’s one of those situations where “I wanted to have enjoyed it”. Well, I’m sorry, it didn’t work out this time.

In Bookwyrm there’s a shelf for “Stopped Reading” and I added a comment so that in the future I know why I stopped reading it.

#reading #books #journal

Thoughts? Discuss... if you have an account or email me


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

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